Friday, May 24, 2013

The Grooves We Etch

I can't write about what's most on my mind, at least not in specifics.  Here at the Berkey-Abbott household, we continue to think about moving to different neighborhoods and the old houses in those neighborhoods.  Do we want a house that's so historic that it's listed on the historic registry?  How much do we want to spend?  We've talked about downsizing, but could we, really?  How did we end up with all this furniture?

So here are some Friday fragments.  For those of you who read both of my blogs faithfully, I apologize.  Some of these fragments were part of yesterday's post on my theology blog.

--If you're still wanting more on The Doors, today NPR's Fresh Air is rerunning the interview that they had with Ray Manzarek back in 1998.  I'll post a link when there is one.

Update:  to listen, go here.  You can also get a transcript, but really, you want to hear Manzarek play.

--One of my friends has written of his intention to be more careful with e-mail:  "I'm going to resolve to speak directly to people, if at all possible, rather than emailing, when it involves difficult conversations. And I want to try not to speak ill of anyone in email communications. I hope I can follow through on that."

--I love his last sentence with its acknowledgement of the difficulty of the task.  E-mail has created certain habits.  They're not all beneficial.

--I used to think that e-mails were better--everyone could compose their thoughts.  But let me admit that it's possible--too possible--for events to escalate in a way that they wouldn't have if we could read body language and/or soften what we're saying with a smile or a shrug.

--What would happen if I made the same resolution at work?  Could I resolve not to write e-mails about/instead of difficult conversations?

--This has been a tough quarter at school.  It seems a lot more people are unravelling than usual.

--My job--to try to help with the reassembling, while remembering that people have a certain responsibility for keeping themselves knitted together too.

--I do wonder if there's something atmospheric or cyclical going on.  I'm hearing from people across different fields that they're getting more cries for help than usual.

--Lately, I've been thinking that I need to make more room for happiness in my life--not contentment, but happiness and joy. I get contentment from a tasty supper at home. I get happiness from having people over for dinner. I'm going to start doing that more often, even if it means that people will see how I really live, with unswept floors and a smidge of toothpaste in the sink.

--In this post, Rachel Barenblat explores happiness. This paragraph resonated with me: "I find myself thinking about a lot of these ideas in terms of what kinds of grooves I want to be carving on my heart and in my mind. We're all creatures of habit. I try to cultivate the habit of seeing myself, and seeing everyone around me, through generous eyes. I try to be kind to myself to and to everyone around me. I try to say thank-you to God, at least every morning and every night, for the many blessings in my life. This sounds a little bit corny, I know! But I've found that when I make a practice of saying thank you, when I make a practice of trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, when I stop to notice what's beautiful in my life and in the world, I am calmer and kinder as a result. I am a better person, a better mom, a better rabbi, a better spouse. And the more I do those things, the more well-worn that path becomes in my mind and heart, the easier it is to keep doing those things."

--This image of grooves seems to be popping up a lot in my reading this week. In The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of 'Enough,' Julia Cameron relates a story of a wealthy woman who can't stop fretting: "She is habituated to worry, and worry about money is the most deeply grooved worry of all" (page 4).

--I wrestle with anxiety more than I want to admit. Most of it is low grade. Is any of it justified? The anxious part of me says of course--what if we make the wrong choice and run out of money? My serene self says that none of this matters in the long run or the short run.

--I also have anxieties on my brain because we're in the process of thinking about moving to a new house. We will be moving to a new house, unless housing prices zoom out ahead of what we can afford in the next month or two. It's more of a mortgage than I would have ever thought we could afford.

--Of course, our first house was a VA repo which we bought for $35,000 back in 1993. Now I think that every house should cost $40,000-$50,000. Yes, only 4 zeroes in that number. And yes, I realize how unrealistic my anxiety brain can be.

--I have a vision that our new neighborhood will bring me more happiness and joy. But I know I'll need to cultivate that happiness and joy.

--To quiet my anxieties in the coming days as we move through this process, I'll start planning dinner parties! I will keep my brain from driving off into ditches of anxiety by reading books like Cameron's that remind me that I have all I need already.

--And I'll try to treat people more gently.  I always try to treat people gently, but I'll try to up the level of that care--maybe by sending fewer e-mails.

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